Cats and Dogs Donate Blood

Maybe you already knew this, and it stands to reason it is a normal practice, but I didn’t know how important animal blood donations are until recently.

Every day cats and dogs need blood transfusions for medical procedures. A two-year old English mastiff donated blood twenty times in Illinois. Some of its blood was used in an emergency situation to save the life of a dog that had eaten rat poison. Dogs sometimes eat rat bait that contains warfarin, an anticoagulant causing huge loss of blood. The mastiff was donating about once a month.

In Scotland some police dogs are used to donate blood for dogs that will need it in a serious medical situation, “Unless you have or work with dogs you do not think about them needing blood transfusions and take for granted, sometimes like humans, that blood will be available.” (Source: BBC)

According to one source, dog blood can be preserved for about 35 days. Dog plasma can be frozen and stored successfully for about five years.

Canine blood donor basic requirements may vary, but at the University of Pennsylvania for example, they are:

  • 55 pounds or more, but not greater than 150 pounds
  • older than one year
  • calm temperament
  • not on medication
  • never diagnosed with certain disease like heartworm
    or heart murmur

At the Angell Animal Medical Center-Boston cat donor requirements are:

  • weigh at least nine pounds
  • over one year old and less than nine
  • on all vaccines
  • no major medical issues
  • not on any medications

A cat recently was recognized as a hero for donating blood regularly. A vet technician said each donation can save four lives.

Image Credit: ohnoitsjamie

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Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Abbe, have you ever tried to force a cat to do ANYTHING that the cat didn't want to do? My vet has 3 cats residing in his clinic/hospital. One is a spayed female that showed up at the door very pregnant. When her kittens were old enough to be weaned, he spayed her and kept two of the largest males, neutered them, rehomed the others. The three live there, come and go AT WILL and hunt in the vacant field next door,come back when they feel like it, lounge around on the receptionists desk, and guess what...........all THREE are blood donors when needed, for example, a cat is brought in after being mauled by a dog or whatever. If you saw how big these cats are (mostly Maine Coon), you'd understand that they are not forced to do anything. If they had been, they wouldn't freely walk thru the exam rooms, into the doc's office and behind, thru the treatment and surgery rooms.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

just to quibble -- I don't think the donors are volunteers. They have been forced into this, good cause or not.

Carole H.
Carole Hagen6 years ago

Sounds AWESOME to me! Very important!

Carol Kemp
Carol K6 years ago

My dog Simon was my first dog blood donor, then came Chloe. Back 25 or more years ago it was donor connected to recipient . Registerd all my dogs since then.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R6 years ago

It is a good thing that these animal's parents are willing to help other animals who are in need.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Didn't want to get cut further explain the lack of stress on the animal "donating", cats have very good memories. If the 3 cats that my vet uses as "donors" were stressed, do you honestly think they'd return to the clinic (since they can come and go as they please) and willingly be picked up and taken to the back room? No, they'd remember what happened last time and run like HELL! These cats each weighs close to 20 lbs. It would take several people to control them if they protested. They don't. They are actually oblivious to the procedure, and get fed very well "afterwards".

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Sorry, Will, but you're absolutely, positively 180 degrees WRONG! To get bear bile, the bear must die......same with "cat gut". The dogs and cats that "donate" blood are very much alive and must be healthy and robust before any vet will use them as donors. They don't lie "shivering" in fear, nor would any dog be physically capable of "donating" 55 pints of blood. Even the biggest dog on earth doesn't even have that much to begin with! Over a lifetime, a large dog COULD conceivably donate that much, however. My own vet has 3 large cats that live in his clinic, and they are an abandoned stray female and two of her kittens born at the clinic. He spayed her and kept her and two kittens and they are roaming freely inside, go out to hunt and yes, used as blood donors for cats that need blood. I've watched the procedure. They are restrained by a vet tech grasping them by the nape of the neck (same as a Mother cat does when carrying a kitten) and a needle inserted and blood drawn. The entire procedure lasts a couple of minutes. It's done ONLY when a cat comes in that has been mauled by a dog, hit by a car or undergoing surgery and is in desperate NEED. I guess you'd rather your pet die rather than receive "donated" blood?

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

My mistake. They did not take blood from a dog 55 times, it was 20 times that the owner volunteered it's dog. Or the owner donated it's dogs blood 20 times! The owner donates it dogs blood while the dog lies shivering and scared.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

To donate something means you had the will to donate, the choice. These dogs are not choosing to give away their blood. Their blood is being taken from them against their will. This is a bit like milking bears for their Bile, or raising cats for catgut! To say that they are donating blood willingly is a lie. Your sentimentality has rotted your brain and now you can't tell the difference between truth and fiction. I got nothing against harvesting blood for other dogs (though 55 pints seem a tad excessive) but we should call it what it is. Blood farming or dog milking, canine bloodsucking anything other than the totally inaccurate term, "Donating".